Archive for September, 2015

8 ~ This Has To End

Posted: September 20, 2015 in Entropis

One arm bent backwards, a shard of snapped bone piercing skin. A leg, mangled and crushed, blood pooling around it and rushing to re-join the trail from where it’d been dragged along the solidifying gravel. The very sight made Silver recoil, her stomach straining to force up its contents. It was little wonder that Iris had passed out, and astonishing that she’d survived at all.

Kia fought to beat back the mutated monsters that had been trying to tear Iris apart, their bodies twisted in overgrown aspects. One hulk made almost entirely of muscle smashed down at her with thick, knotted fists, and she leapt, bouncing off from another, bone shards growing out of its skin to reach around its body in some form of exoskeleton. A third monster clung to the leg of the over-muscled mutant, its limbs wasting away before her eyes as fresh gashes erupted across it, teeth snapping and chattering away from all angles. Above them, another creature watched them, eyes on every limb, every part of its body, sitting atop a platform roof. Even as its eyes met hers, more erupted across its skin.

How was it easier to engage with such unfathomable horrors than it was to look at Iris’ shattered body? Had she been so desensitised to the madness of Schisms that she could rationalise it as just being unreal, of being some warped dream that, once it was over, would never return? But Iris, her pain was so much more real. So much more permanent. With her powers gone, with her striking, glowing blue dress vanished, Silver had barely recognised her. It’d taken Kia’s guidance to realise that the unconscious, normal girl laying there was Iris. More than ever it reminded her that her broken state would last even after the Schism was over, and anything she did wrong now… would Iris be forced to live with it for the rest of her life? If she couldn’t heal her like Kia told her to, if she couldn’t get her back to her original state, would Iris end up being crippled forever?

She knelt next to her and stifled her own gagging at the smell. The air was thick with blood, the girl plastered in sweat, and she could feel the pressure of it all weighing down on her. She’d never felt so heavy, even as she extended her arms and began to concentrate on at least stopping the bleeding. Turning liquid blood into solid flesh. Would that close off veins, or would her intent work its way through her Metasis powers as it had with her own ankle? She hoped so – at the very least, she needed to stabilise the girl so she wouldn’t bleed to death.

Kia had managed to get on top of the muscle-bound hulk, its thick, powerful arms smashing at her as she dodged them. Its head was gone, dissolved by Kia’s magic, but even without it the creature continued to swing at her. Did it not need a brain? These things had once been human, passengers on a train that’d come through the station, despite Kia’s apparent attempts to report a disaster to divert any more on their way. But these were far from human now. A slew of corpses, each of them in varying states of dissolution, trailed off to the derailed train near the edge of the Schism, where it had hit the hardening edge and crumpled into a pile. Iris and Euphie must’ve fought hard to beat back as many as there had been, but it was hard to believe she’d have thought Iris would be okay on her own against these things. Kia was smacked off the top of the hulk by the bone-armoured thing that had climbed up it, but its arm had shattered as it had connected with her. She dropped to the floor, ducked under the hulk and send a powerful blow to the merged ribs of the monster clinging to it.
Somehow, they were still changing. The muscular hulk was getting bigger, its thick arms and legs gradually developing more layers. The skeletal creature was developing in the opposite way, its flesh withering away as its shell became less human, bone merging into a thick, beetle-like carapace that covered its body. The many mouthed thing had lost all control of its limbs and was just laying there, snapping away at nothing, barely an inch of flesh between its many jaws. Were these things really the unrestrained forms of the force she felt when she connected with the Heart? Would her desire to hide have transformed her into some tiny being that disappears into itself in some crude, warped way? What had each of these people wanted that had made Immallea refine them in such ways?

With Iris stabilised, she hesitated over the girl. This wasn’t like a gouge of flesh, transmuting one thing into another. A leg was so many things, bone and blood and muscle and fat. Get the balance wrong and it’d end up like, like those things. She was barely able to get the rings on her necklace to change independently, let alone something as complex as human biology. There was only so much magic could do, surely?

There was a crack and Kia was sent tumbling to the ground, scraping through the condensing gravel towards Silver, and collapsed in a pile of glowing purple. For a moment, Silver caught her breath, fear knifing into her at the thought of facing those things on her own, before Kia began to push herself back up, giggling.

“Ohh the atmosphere’s going, Silver! I can feel it! Or, well, actually I can’t feel anything, but that’s the point! I’m getting high already!”
She tried to restrain her giggling, continuing in a sing-song voice,

“You better get Iris awake real quick so she doesn’t start mel-ting!”
The girl looked up at the creatures, shouting out to them as they lumbered after her, “You call that a punch? That barely even hurt!” she laughed, stumbling forward, one arm clutching her side, “I’ve been smacked around by worse than you!”
She leapt up, still laughing, propelling herself gravity-less through the air, and grabbed the skull of the skeleton creature. Gravity returned to her, and she fell hard, the skull cracking against the ground under her.

Melting? Right, like the corpses from the train. Each of those were melting away, turning to water. She’d learnt somewhere – was it at school? – that people were sixty or seventy percent water, something like that. If this place was refining everything, making them pure, was that why they were melting? Were they turning completely to water? She shook Iris’ shoulders. Kia had said if they were unconscious, their powers wouldn’t protect them. If that was true, Iris’ mangled limbs were the least of her worries. Suddenly she couldn’t tell if the drops were beads of sweat, or Iris herself. If she turned to liquid, how could she ever make her better? Could she fix a melted brain? Could she remake a psyche that’d dripped away? She needed her awake, and she needed it now.

“Come on, Iris!”

She shook the girl again, flooding her senses into her, feeling for some way to wake her, feeling past the tremors of her beating heart and throbbing veins, beyond the steady pulsing flow of air into her lungs. Her need for Iris to wake lead her through each fibre of muscle, through the thick and hardened, then spongy lattice of every bone, her desperation opening her mind to each spark that flooded through her. She sent her energy in, probing and feeling, searching for something to grab onto, to shake and ignite into wakefulness, but there was nothing. Nothing that presented itself to her, or her magic. No switch she could flip that’d wake her. Even as a part of her mind marvelled at the scope of her awareness, she felt heavy with responsibility, her body seeming to be physically weighted by the life in her hands. Iris’ body felt slippery, somehow, both internally and externally, her consistency gradually slipping, slowly melting away. How long did she have? If she could just find a way to change her body into…

To change her into wakefulness. That was what she was, wasn’t she? She was change. Searching for some switch or natural part of Iris to change was pointless, she didn’t even know what she was looking for. Ironic though it might be, it would be Iris who’d know what might wake her. She knew about the body more than anyone. But what had changed one thing into another was intent, focussed and pure. She could feel her energy flooded through the girl’s entire body, what would be so hard about changing her from an unconscious Iris, and into a conscious one?

Iris’ body erupted into a burst of blue light, bright and forceful as fire, but vanishing as the girl’s back arched, her eyes snapping wide open as she gasped at her own sudden return to reality. Her chest heaved, her limbs flailed, fighting to grab, to push away, to gain some measure of perspective once again. Her eyes widened still further once more, and she cried out, her good arm going to the other, clutching it as she tightened into a ball, whimpering as her attempts to move her right leg did nothing.

“Iris, it’s okay! Iris come on, look at me, it’s alright!”

“S-Silver?” Panic still flared in her eyes, and she shrank from the girl, her whole body beginning to shake, “What- what happened? Where? I was… those things they—!”

“It’s okay! Kia’s fighting them off!” In the background, Kia’s giggling was barely audible, but the noises of cracking bone and squelching flesh told her she was still fighting, “It’s the atmosphere, you suffocated! You can’t breathe at the edge, but we got you out! You’ll be safe soon!”

“My arm… it, hohh, my leg as well, oh… God, Silver, it hurts to move, it hurts so much… what, what happened…?”

Iris’ panic was contagious, Silver could feel her body shaking with fear, clutching her heart as it thumped in her chest. All of a sudden she felt sick. She didn’t want to tell Iris about her leg, she didn’t want to reassure her, not when she couldn’t say for sure. When she truly didn’t know if they’d be able to fix her. She could barely force the words to tell her that…

“It’ll be okay, Iris… your leg, and… and arm they, they’re hurt but… we’ll fix you up, no problem, as soon as you’re safe!” She fought to keep the fear from her eyes, “Now you’re awake, it’ll be easy! We just need to get to the centre. Euphie’s at the Heart, waiting for us!”

Iris turned her head, looking over at Kia, who struck blow after blow against the creatures only for their broken flesh and bone to reform, healing up at terrifying speed. She ducked from every blow, keeping them focussed on her and away from the defenceless Iris. The muscle-hulk was so huge now that it towered over them all, swinging its featureless limbs with force enough that the ground shook every time it connected with something, but its speed so slow that Kia dodged its attacks with ease. The armoured bone creature, conversely, was barely moving. What motions it had were slow and grinding, its joints solidifying, with barely any visible gaps between bones, the whole creature almost one solid form. She couldn’t even see the biting one anymore. Kia backpedalled away from another fist as it swung down into the ground where she’d stood, and she paused, panting.

“Okay… hahh, hahh, right… you’re awake… you better… get going.” She straightened up, watching as the monster lumbered after her, “We’re running out of air around here… this fella ain’t gonna last much longer either.”

They watched as she let it charge, a purple matador staring down a bull of pure muscle, only to duck between its thick legs and let it keep going. It struggled to slow down, smashing into one of the pillars holding up the roof of a platform, its sheer weight crumpling it and tugging the roof above down with it, the pillar and roof fused into one and bending together. From above, a single condensed eye of hundreds rolled down the slope and hit the ground, its endless stare unblinking as it melted into the floor. The muscle-monster turned back, oblivious, and began to march once more towards Kia, determined.

“Come on, we’d best get going, if it sees us… well, you can’t move like Kia, can you!” Silver forced a smile, her attempt at humour falling flat as Iris tried to use her good arm to push herself upright, “Hey, hang on, let me help!”
She put her arms under Iris’, and though she flinched and moaned, they began to struggle upright together. The strain was intense, and Silver couldn’t help but wonder when she had become so weak. It was tiring just to stand up again, let alone lift Iris too, and the girl felt like she weighed twice what she should, if not more. Had her fear weakened her? Wasn’t fear and adrenaline supposed to strengthen you? Iris caught sight of her mangled foot and let out a gasping sob.

“Oh… oh god, my leg…”

“Don’t worry about that now! We’ll fix you up! That’s what magic’s for, right? We can do anything, your leg’ll be easy!” Silver heaved, trying to pull her further up, “Easy, no problem at all! But, but right now, we just need to get back to the Heart!” she panted, “So come on Iris… just, just try to stand, okay? Put your weight on your other leg, that’s it…”

“Hey! You two! Watch this!”
They both looked up at Kia, Iris leaning on Silver as they watched her dive out of the way of the charging monster, its speed taking it past her and further back towards the edge of the Schism. It ran on at full speed for a second before it began to slow, then something snapped. It shuddered, one leg giving out from under it and sending it flying forward, scraping along the floor. It squelched, and as they stared, it flattened, its body pressed against the ground as if some invisible foot had stepped on it, slowly increasing the pressure as it went further towards the solidifying edge. The entire creature spread out, its body puddling on the floor, crushed into a red, muscled pancake. Iris gagged and looked away, and Silver had to gulp air to force down her own nausea. Kia whooped.

“And that is why you don’t fuck with gravity! HaHA!!”

“What…” Silver forced her eyes away from the flattened creature, glancing quickly to the bone monster, it also unmoving, but cracks appearing along its legs, “What just happened?”
Kia staggered over, grinning, her eyes alight for the first time, “Gravity, bitches! This place, it’s solidifying everything! And as everything gains more mass, gravity intensifies! The edges’ll crush you! Come on, can’t you feel it? If it weren’t for my powers, I’d barely have been able to walk back there!”

“Gravity…?” Silver could feel the weight, the whole world bearing down on her relentlessly. She wasn’t weak. It wasn’t her. Really, truly, the world actually was bearing down on her. No wonder Iris was so heavy. “Gravity is getting stronger?”

“Yeah! If we don’t suffocate first, this place’ll make us flatter than a fox on a motorway! Hah!” She grinned at her own joke, “So you better get marchin’ if you don’t wanna kiss the dirt!”

~☆~

The platform with the Heart was clear, the stretch of concrete bare and untainted but for the chewed up hole in the ground where Kia had uncovered the Heart itself. Euphie ran over to greet them as she saw them coming, her lips trembling as she saw the state of Iris.

“Oh God, Iris, man, I didn’t think… I, I had no idea this’d happen, I’m so sorry… I should never have—”

“Shut up!” Kia batted Euphie away, “Not now! You and Silver, get on the Heart! I can’t do it ‘til I sober up a bit, so you both better start now!” She turned to Iris as Silver set her down on the ground, leaning against one of the platform pillars, “You gotta learn how to fix yourself, and it’ll be way easier in here. I’m gonna help, right? But I ain’t gonna be able to do it for ya.”

“I’m going to be okay…?”

“That’s up to you! You’re gonna be as good as you wanna be. Would’ve thought being in here would’ve taught you that by now.”
Kia shot a look up at Euphie and Silver, and they moved back towards the Heart. The smooth, featureless egg, shining a gentle dull blue in the crevice it was nestled into it seemed to merge with its surroundings. They hunched down around it, Euphie staring into it as if it held answers past its constantly re-growing shell.

“Man, this shouldn’t be hard at all, right? Not with you and me on the job.” Euphie clapped Silver on the back, “Like in the last one, we kicked arse! Fought back those nutters no problem!”

“Hah, r-right…” Silver gave her a wincing smile, flashes of accidentally tearing people apart and watching them fall into endless blackness telling her a different story, but if Euphie wanted to remember it that way, she wasn’t going to change that. “This one’s a little different though…”

“Yeah this one’s way easier. Man, when Iris transformed, I felt it real close and I totally found her stuck in this car that was just, like, sucking her up, you know? Just like in here, ‘cept she couldn’t use her powers yet.” She pointed down at the egg, “This one’s massive though, the one in Iris’ Schism was tiny, a little pebble thing. Melted it down easy!” She grinned, “This’ll be a little harder I guess.”

“You fixed Iris’ Schism? And yours as well?” Silver frowned, staring at the layering oval Heart, “You learnt fast… I mean, you must’ve been really good to do all that without training.”
Euphie shook her head,

“Nah, nah I’m way better now than when I met you guys. Already. Before, all I thought I could do was melt stuff down. Figured it was fire powers or whatever. Besides, I didn’t have a Schism, so by the time I felt Iris pop up I’d had like, a whole day of messing about with ‘em.”
She went quiet for a moment, glancing back over her shoulder at the pair behind them,

“Iris is gonna be okay, right man?” She bit her lip, “I act without thinking, like, all the time. I figured she could handle it, you know? It’s easy to forget how all this element stuff works.” She shook her head, “I shoulda just done what Kia said, man. I shoulda just listened.”

“Don’t worry,” Silver smiled, her face was probably going to ache later from all the forced bravery, “Kia’ll know what to do, she’ll get her back to normal.”
Euphie nodded, kept nodding, then shrugged,

“Nothing we can do though, right? So let’s get on this! I tried to give it a go while you guys were gone, but uh, heh, it’s pretty damn strong. You don’t happen to have any idea what might weaken it a bit, do ya?” She flexed her fingers, “Then I could melt it!”

“I don’t know…” Silver ran a hand through her hair, “I tried to change it into something else, but it was so distracting, I could barely get anywhere.”

“Yeah, it’s way too solid for me to break down as it is. Maybe if it was like, something really weak. You know? Or, really un-solid!” she shrugged, “I dunno man, I don’t deal in different types of stuff, I just smash it all.” She winked.

“Well, water’s about as unsolid as you can get, I guess.” Silver stared down at it, “Maybe if I just…” she projected her mind down to it, feeling its surface, the smooth, self-reinforcing metallic substance it’d created itself into. She felt it connect back, its tendrilous energy reaching into her mind, gripping at thoughts, searching for some way to force her into one set mind state. She tried to push past, tried to ignore her own mind and focus on transforming it, but she could feel herself rebelling. Water was so different to it that forcing it was a strain. She couldn’t roll with it like in her own Metasis Schism, she had to try to force it back against its nature. But she couldn’t just give in, if Euphie saw her do that, what would she think? She’d be disgusted. She had to show Euphie that she was strong too. She had to prove she could be just as–

“Heey, hey snap out of it man!” Euphie had grabbed her arms, pulling her away from it, “You started rockin’ and shit and, like, got super intense. All your arm muscles start twitching, man! You okay?”
Silver blinked,

“Uh, I… yeah…” What had she been thinking? The echoes of her need to be seen as strong still bounced around her head, but suddenly they made no sense. It’d managed to get so far into her head she couldn’t even tell, anymore. How was she supposed to fight it when it could mess with her mind – the very thing she needed to fight it? “Listen, Euphie, this thing it… it gets in my head…”

“Yeah, man, no kidding.”

“Kia did this thing, last time, where she broke down the connection it made with my mind. Could you, like, do something like that?”
Euphie shifted a little,

“Uh, well, I dunno man, that doesn’t sound like such a great idea…”

“Why not?”

“Well… I ain’t so good with my powers. Like, I can melt stuff sure, but… I don’t wanna mess with your head. I don’t wanna, like…” she winced, “Melt it.”
Silver frowned,

“Alright… well if that’s out, I need to find a way to do it fast…” She tapped her head, staring at it, “Something easier than pure water…”

“What about some other kinda metal. Like, somethin’ I could melt easier.”

“Yeah, something that turns to liquid really easily… I wish I’d paid more attention in Science back in school…”

“Hah,” Euphie grinned, “Don’t look at me, man, I don’t know anything about it.”
Silver thought hard, what metals melted really easily? She’d seen pictures of molten vats of stuff on TV on documentaries and movies when they made weapons, but she didn’t know what they actually were. Was there any use for metal that wouldn’t harden? “What about… what’s that stuff they use in thermometers? Quicksilver or something.”

“Oh yeah! That stuff! Man, I broke one once, that shit is cool. Slides around everywhere.”

“What if I turned it into that? I’ve never seen it as anything but liquid, but it’s metal right?”

“Worth a shot!” Euphie grinned.

She cast her mind back in, determined now, with a purpose. She felt it grab onto her, felt it probe her mind to force her into one mental process, but she focussed as quickly as she could. She could see it, that quicksilver stuff, all shiny, two-tone iridescent like silver oil. She saw it melt, watched it collapse in her mind. Its strength was in its mass, but as liquid, that just made it broader. She could feel it moulding with her mind, even as it tried to mould hers.

“Ohh damn! That’s awesome! I’m well jealous, I wish I could do that!” Euphie leant over the crevice now filled with blueish mercury, “Okay lemme try! I’m gonna break it apart!”

But Silver could see it recombining. She watched it slide together, reconstituting into a singular egg-like shape. It was weaker, that much was sure, but its forces were focussed on turning itself back into the strong, solid object it had just been. Euphie was struggling against it, her attempts gradually creating a tiny whirlpool in the centre, but little more. It gathered itself together around her as if she were little more than a nuisance, getting in its way.
Silver reached out again, she had to hold it still. Liquid was weak and malleable, but hard to concentrate on. But there was one way she knew to deal with it, and from there, she’d had practice. She reimagined the pool, reforming it in her mind, and with her mind came reality. And in reality, steam rose from the pool of quicksilver as it lay there solid, yet liquid. Cracks appeared across its surface as it fought against its new form of being, but Euphie’s own force sent a great rift down the middle of it, and split it clean apart.

“Oh, damn, you’ve frozen it solid! Nice going, man! It’s way easier to split up now!” Euphie jerked her head at it as if she were headbutting it from afar, and another crack appeared,

“Oh, oh! I know! It’s frozen, so, like, turn the rest to water! If I melt it right, it’ll evaporate!” She grinned, “Good luck coming back from that, eh?”

“Right!”

Silver nodded, she’d planned on doing the vibrations again, but of course this wasn’t like the fire-ice, Euphie could actually melt this. Now that they’d weakened it, it was getting easier all the time. She could think straight, and with Euphie backing her up she could keep it under control. As it was broken into chunks, she transformed each bit into pure water-based ice, the fragments so easy to change it barely took any effort. Euphie cheered as the first of them gushed into a geyser of steam from her force.

“Woo! Did you see that! We’re getting it Silver!”

The chunks began to explode into pockets of steam one by one, and as Silver looked away, she found that the station was practically gone. The earth and concrete had merged to form huge plateaus from the ground, and as she looked up past them, the sky had been completely merged with the walls that’d been growing up at the edges. The entire Schism was enclosed, the plateaus actually colossal stalagmites trying to rejoin with the sky. This place wasn’t going to fall apart like Entropis, or devolve into utter chaos like Metasis… Immallea turned the world into one solid, constant bubble of one substance. Fail to stop it and they’d be crushed and incorporated, everything becoming one. Was this the true face of refinement? Of purity? All three forces of the world, their governing balance, as Kia had put it, were so horrendous when unrestrained. She watched the towers of rock reach the ceiling and spread, as if they were in some huge earthen lava lamp, and all of a sudden she could imagine the earth forming, the three forces working in conjunction to form the careful planet they called home. She thought back to the pictures she’d seen in school books of the world, filled with volcanoes and ash and lava, and now could imagine these three forces doing battle, wrestling amongst each other to stake their claim, tides of power forcing inert matter to life. The calm they’d achieved in the end that had allowed life to flourish and grow, what had unsettled it? What had caused these Schisms to tear this world apart once more?

“Yeah! Last one!” Euphie was silhouetted by a last gush of steam, “This Schism is going doooown!”

The world began to crack. Solid rock fragmented above their heads, shards falling down across what had once been a station. The entire Schism began to fracture as though they were inside a giant egg, and as the walls broke apart, reality rushed in to reclaim the stolen space. The world righted itself, forcing reality back upon the over-purified solidity of Immallea. Balance was restored, and everything amiss disappeared. The destroyed trains and mutated people were gone as if they’d never existed at all. Litter blew along in the wind, tumbling across concrete and gravel to get caught in patches of grass. Around them, the automated announcer chimed, and informed them that the station was closed. Traffic all but drowned out the noise of birds. Yes, this was reality again alright.

“Wooo! Yeah! We did it! You and me, Silver! What a team!”
Silver’s arm was grabbed and whirled around by a celebratory Euphie, bouncing her way around her. The cheer was infectious, and Silver felt herself starting to grin, only for the dancing to abruptly stop. Euphie dropped Silver’s arm and ran over to Iris, who was sitting on the concrete by the pillar. Her arm seemed back to normal, but she was still holding her leg, frowning.

“Hey man, your arm! Your arm’s okay! Your leg’ll be fine too, right?” Euphie turned to Kia, who stood over Iris as she worked, “Her leg’ll be fine, yeah?”

“Yeah. She’ll be fine. She’s got the hang of it, let her concentrate.”

“But, that’s awesome! I mean, she can heal herself! Like, her arm was pretty damn busted, so if she can fix that, she can fix her leg no problem, right?”

“Yes, yes, sure. Be quiet would you?”

“And we fixed the Schism too, so like, everything worked out fine! We’re a pretty bad ass team! Next time, Silver and me, we’re gonna–”

“Euphie!” Iris looked up from her leg, “Will you shut the hell up? I’m trying to concentrate!”

“Right, right,” Euphie nodded, backing off, “Yeah, sorry Iris…”
Iris put her head down, glaring at her leg, and closed her eyes. “It… it didn’t work out fine. Don’t you get it? Didn’t you see how many trains full of people were just… just slaughtered in there? How can you see all those deaths and say it all worked out fine!?”
She put her hands to her face, then slowly ran them up and through her thick black hair, letting out a deep breath,

“How can you talk about next time like it’s some kinda game? We’ve got these tiny little powers, and we’re fighting against entire breaches in reality, and you act like we’ll just keep going forever…”
The world had come together, and now the world was coming apart. How could they fight that with their abilities? The forces they were up against transcended human imagining. These weren’t just forces of nature, these were the very concepts that created nature, in all its force. Were they really making a difference, or just standing against a tide, feeling victorious because the wave hit them first?

“What if this isn’t just here?” Iris grit her teeth, “What if this is happening everywhere? All across the world? We can’t stop them all! Do we just assume there’s other girls out there fighting other Schisms and winning?”
She gasped, her outburst sapping her strength and she clung to her leg, reeling from the pain. Silver stood, stunned. She had no answers. Neither, it seemed, did Euphie.

“You’re quite right, Iris.” Kia stood, motionless and emotionless, “And you’re really very quick to pick up on all that. We can’t go on fighting, it’s an endless cycle, and it ain’t ever gonna get better. Reality doesn’t give a shit if we live or die.”
She stepped forward, into the middle of them,

“We can’t keep fighting, but we can’t not fight. Too many lives are at stake, right?” She nodded, slowly, as if they’d agreed, “We all know this has to end.”

“How… how can it end?” Iris looked up past tear stained cheeks, “It’s just hopeless…”

“It’s taken time to work it out, and it takes a lot of work, but my old teammate Maddy and me… well, we figured it out.” She opened her arms out, wide and expansive, “A way to change everything at once. A way to make the world stable again.” Her arms dropped, “But we couldn’t do it. The two of us weren’t enough. And then… and then she died.” Kia’s face was blank. “Now there’s four of us.” She said, “And one of each element at that. We might just be able to pull it off.”
She smiled,

“What do ya say we give it one last shot?”

“What do ya say we try to save the world?”

END OF CHAPTER EIGHT

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Read Chapter 9 – The Power Of Three – (Coming August 4th)

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7 ~ In The Moment

Posted: September 6, 2015 in Entropis

“Is it drugs? Is that what it is?”

“No! Damn it, no, it’s not drugs! I’m telling you it’s nothing illegal!”

“Well then tell me! Come on, enlighten me, what is this mystery job!”
She hadn’t thought this through. She’d assumed that they’d be more interested in the money rather than where it came from. Over the last few days she’d been careful; buying sets of plastic rings and necklaces from pound stores and toy shops and transmuting them into pure gold to sell at pawn shops around the area. Never the same one twice and never too many that it might look like she’d stolen them. They said something about missing hallmarks, irregular weight, and ended up giving her less than she’d expected, but she still made more in a day than she’d made in her life.

“I thought you’d be happy! Don’t you want me to pay you some rent?”

“Not if it’s drug money I don’t!”

“It isn’t drug money!”

“Then tell me how you got it! It’s really simple!”

“I… it’s…”
Facing down her mother’s accusations would be easy if she could tell her the truth, or even had thought of a convincing lie in advance, but with the Stare Of Judgement bearing down on her she was struggling to come up with something convincing while not making it obvious. She’d been so excited about having real money for a change that she hadn’t even thought of this happening.

“Is… Is it porn? Are you being paid to–”

“No! Mum, stop, it isn’t anything like that!”

“Then what is it? Because I don’t understand how you can make hundreds of pounds in just under a week with no qualifications, no experience, no references…” She ticked them off on her fingers, “You don’t make money like that without doing something illegal!”

“Well…” The closer to the truth she made it, the easier she found it to lie, “I was selling stuff, but… but none of it stolen! Really, I wouldn’t do that!”
Now she thought about it, was selling fabricated gold illegal? It wasn’t fake gold, so it wasn’t forgery. At least, not in the normal sense…

“I don’t want to believe that you would! Trust me, I really don’t, but you’re still not telling me how you got it! So what am I supposed to believe, huh?”
Silver bit her lip.

“I’m just… buying and reselling stuff, that’s all…”

“Buying and reselling what?” Her mother wasn’t buying it, “I thought you said it wasn’t drugs.”

“It isn’t! I started off with some of my own stuff, you know? To get a little something.”
She shrugged, hiding her inward relief at having found a thread she could run with. She really had started with her own jewellery, but she didn’t have enough after most of it had gone in the first Schism, and what she did have didn’t look like it would be made in gold.

“And, well, a friend of mine sells stuff online and he was saying how to do it, and how I could do it… so I gave it a go and ended up selling stuff for way more than I bought it!” She quickly scaled down her grin from self satisfied to apologetic, “I’m… pretty good at it, you know?”
There was a pause as her mother studied her, Silver could feel her scanning for any holes in her story or body language, any tiny indication that might verify her mother’s suspicions.

“Why did you sell your stuff?” She said, lie detector mode still on full, “You couldn’t have been paid so quickly, you’ve only been gone a few days!”

“Well, that’s why I went to my friend!” Silver gestured off, as if towards him, “It was his account! He paid me what I’d be getting, just in advance!”
Her mother wasn’t listening,

“You could have told me, you could’ve… you could’ve borrowed money from us! You don’t need to sell your own stuff just for money!”

“Why not?” She’d changed her approach, which meant she’d started to believe it. It’d be easy from here. “It’s my stuff! I can sell it if I want! I couldn’t keep half of it anyway, it was way too much to keep here. I’d have to rent storage and that’d just cost more. It’s not like I even needed it!”
She shrugged again, thinking back to all her old stuff that burned down with Jake’s apartment, wiped from existence in the Schism. With money so available, she’d be able to replace it all with even better stuff. Designer clothes, high end computers and giant TVs. Hell, there was no reason she couldn’t finish her parents mortgage, even buy her own place! She turned her attention back to her lie, her fake job and partner, the ghost of her old troubles,

“Borrowing from you doesn’t solve anything. How else would I have got some money without having to pay it back again?”

“You could’ve got a job.”
Silver groaned and rolled her head back. The last gasp of parental wisdom – when all else fails, get a job.

“There are no jobs. For exactly the reasons you said. No experience, no qualifications, no nothing.”

“Then why don’t you go to University! That’s what student loans are for!”

“I’m not doing this now.” Silver shook her head, “We’re just going to go round in circles. I’ve made some money, okay? Just… just be happy for me, for once, maybe.”
Her mother looked away, her mind churning for a new angle, a new outlet. Something didn’t smell right to her, that much was obvious, but Silver could see her struggling to find a hole in her story.

“I’m just worried about you. That’s a lot of money to just turn up with in three days.”
Silver stared,

“Well, I’d kinda appreciate it if you didn’t just assume I’m dealing drugs or whatever.” Whether or not magically crafted gold was illegal, it still stung that her mother’d assume it straight away, “I kinda hoped you’d know me better.”
The timer beeped on the kitchen side and her mother opened the oven, leaning down to stare in at the meat inside. The rich aroma that wafted out made Silver’s stomach churn with its own emptiness. She waited for a response.

“Go and tell your brother dinner’s ready, would you?”
Nothing? No response at all? A complete change of subject, in fact. What was that supposed to mean? That she didn’t know her better, but felt she couldn’t say that? Had her time away lowered her so much in her mother’s mind that she’d expect her to break the law?

“Well? Are you going to do it or shall I tell him myself?”

“No, it’s fine.” Silver turned away, “I’ll go.”
Her father would be back soon, and whether he knew it or not his reaction would decide the matter. Her mother wouldn’t bother making an argument out of it if he thought it was positive; fighting the issue against a majority would only make her look bad. But if he became suspicious too, then she’d end up using that to interrogate Silver further. She needed to get him when he came through the door, before he had the chance to hear about it in a negative manner. She could hear it in her mind, how her mother would phrase it to start lighting the fires of suspicion in his mind.

‘Oh, did you hear darling? Our sweet little girl has gone from having no prospects to making hundreds of pounds in a day! I wasn’t sure how at first but she’s assured me it’s a completely legitimate business.’
Yeah, just like that. And she’d use that ‘Isn’t that interesting?’ tone that’s just serious enough that she could deny any accusations of sarcasm. She definitely needed to get to her father first.

“Ben!” Silver yelled up the stairs, “Ben! Dinner’s ready! Come on!”
There was no reply, so she stomped her way up as loud as she could. Damn kid probably had his headphones in. She pummelled his door until it opened.

“What?”
Sullen eyes stared through slim glasses at her, his dark hair grown out in a fringe. She smirked at him, glancing past him and into his room.

“Dinner’s ready. What’re you up to? Playing games again?”
He closed his door behind him,

“No. None of your business anyway. Is dinner actually ready?”

“Kinda. In a ‘mum wants you to set the table in advance’ type of ready.” She barred his way, and grinned at him, “If you’re not playing games like always, what’re you doing? Homework? Like a good boy?”

“I said none of your business,” He sneered, “What do you care, anyway?”
He went to push past her, but she pushed him back. He’d grown quite a bit, and she felt for a moment like he might get past her, but he gave up. At just fourteen, he was already starting to gain on her in strength, but for now she still had the advantage. She couldn’t help but enjoy it while she still could, and she stifled her smile.

“Come on, don’t go yet, I haven’t seen you in ages! Can’t I ask what my little brother is doing?”

“You’ll only take the piss, whatever I say.” He folded his arms, “So I’m not gonna tell you either way. Can we go now?”
Silver mock-pouted,

“Aw, don’t be like that. Come on, I’m trying to mend bridges here!” She smiled, “Just because we haven’t got along before doesn’t mean we can’t start now! I’m back, we should do something together!” she nudged him, “Just tell me what you want to do, eh?”
He stared at her, his face blank,

“I want to go downstairs and have dinner. Can I do that?”

“Urgh! Come on! I’m not talking about right now! I’m talking about in the future! What do you like to do, or go, or whatever?”

“Are you serious?” He twisted his lip, “What is this, a trick? Mum’ll get mad if I’m too long, can we just go already?”
She paused,

“…Alright, alright I can see how it’d look that way right now, but, how else am I gonna talk to you? You lock yourself away and only come out for meals! I left, and I got some space, you know?” She nudged him, “Now I’m back I want to make up for it. I don’t mean to tease, it’s just habit. Let me get to know my brother on better terms. Let me take you out eh?” She smiled, “What do you want to do?”
He stared at her, looking bewildered and cautious, “I dunno…”

“Well,” she shrugged, “Think about it. Do you still like football? Still into the uh…” she cast a line back into her memory, but got nothing, “…Red team?”

“Red team?” He smirked, “You mean Arsenal? Yeah, I still support them.”

“Well then let’s go see one of their games! It’ll be fun!”
He squinted, “Seriously? I thought you hated football.”

“Haah, well… whatever, it’s not about me is it. Maybe it’ll change my mind.” She shrugged again, “Come on, it’s not like you can afford tickets.”

“Can you? I mean, it’d be like sixty quid for the both of us, and that’s just the cheap seats.”

“Cheap seats? And, the expensive seats, how much are they?”

“Like, a hundred each!”
She grinned,

“Heh, well, leave it to me okay? I’ll sort it out.”
They eyed each other, Ben staring at her, disbelief tinged with caution. He probably thought it was a prank or something, but she couldn’t wait to see his face when they sat up the front of a major stadium. Sure, it’d probably be dull as hell to watch a bunch of guys kick a ball into nets for an hour and a half, but maybe it’d convince Ben she’d changed. The more she learnt about these powers, the schisms, and the dangers that came with them, the more she wanted to be able to forget about it. Here, with her family, she could relax. She could love them and be loved by them, and know it for sure. If Ben could only come around, she’d have the perfect hide-away, free from crazy magic and imploding buildings. Her mum and dad would be easy, but Ben would be harder to crack. She heard the lock click downstairs, and clapped Ben on the shoulder.

“Sounds like Dad’s home, better get going eh?”
She dashed to the stairs, paused, then began to walk down casually. ‘How coincidental that she was coming down the stairs as he came in!’ he would think. Ben was catching up behind her, which would make it look even more casual.

“Oh, hey dad!”

“Hey dad.” Ben chimed in.

“Oh, he-ey!” Her father dragged bags of shopping through the door, one in each meaty hand, “Good timing you two, come help me unpack!”
He grinned up at them, his bristly beard unkempt and unruly. He’d put on weight since she left, sporting a belly that he joked was where he stored spare beer in case of emergencies. More like last weeks beer, thought Silver.

“I can’t,” Ben slouched off the stairs and towards the kitchen, “Mum wants me to lay the table.”

“I’ll do it.” Silver pulled the door out and followed her father as he went on ahead of her, “Where’s the car?”

“A bit further up, couldn’t find a place to park. Let’s get the bags in and we’ll take ‘em through after.”

“Sure.”
She watched him walk ahead, keeping slightly behind him. She hadn’t seen much of him over the few days she’d been back, her irregular hours meant she missed him, either being at work or already in bed. Seeing him again seemed strange, somehow, as if her family had been set apart from him. She loved him, but at the same time, she didn’t really know him. Not like she knew Ben, or her mother. He’d worked on an oil rig when she was growing up, working to earn enough for the house they lived in, but it meant that once he was eventually promoted to something more desk-based, she’d been too old to spend proper time with him, preferring the company of her friends. Now that she thought about it, was the difference that he was around more, or because she wanted to try?

“So you’re back for good now? Your mum told me you’re moving back into your old room.” He turned slightly to look at her, still walking towards the car, “I’m surprised it’s big enough for you, these days.”

“It’ll do for now,” She smiled, “I don’t know about for good, but for a while. At least until I get a handle on things. That’s… that’s okay, right? She said you were just using it for storage.”

“Oh yeah!” He nodded, pulling his keys from his pocket, “Yeah it’s fine. It’d be nice to ‘ave you back! Ben’s not so talkative these days, in his moody teens. It’ll be good to have a third person at the table.” He winked.

“Hah, yeah…” She waited as he opened up the boot of the car, still the old Corsa, and taking bags as he handed them to her, “I might not be able to make every dinner, but I’ll do my best.”
He nodded, shutting the car again.

“Yeah you seem busy lately. If you’re ‘aving trouble moving out, you know, if you need any ‘elp…”

“Oh, no, it’s nothing like that.” Silver realised, this was her chance, “Actually, I’ve just started up a little business with a friend of mine. Buying and selling stuff. You know, eBay and all that.” She grinned at him as he picked up his share of bags and started to follow her back, “I’m pretty good at it, I’m making decent money! My friend’s helping me get started.”

“That’s great, I’m glad.” He huffed, “Really, that’s great. A job like that, as well, you can do it part time. You could do it while you were at Uni, or whatever.”

“You too? Come on, I told mum I didn’t want to go, I don’t want you nagging me too. Besides, if I work it full time, I make way more money. After selling all my old stuff I didn’t need, and using that money to get me started, I’ve made great progress! Plus, it’s pretty fun.”
He nodded, quiet for a moment,

“Well, if that’s what you wanna do, then I guess that’s that. I’m just glad you’re back for a bit. It’ll be nice to see you.”

“Yeah. Yeah it’ll be good to see you too. Hey… hey listen, I know you don’t get a lot of time off but… I was wondering about, you know, maybe taking Ben to go see a football match. Treat him a bit now I’m back.” She pushed her way back into the house, “I was wondering if… well… maybe you’d like to come?”

“‘Ey maybe! When is it?”

“I don’t know yet.” She paused, “I don’t know much, actually, but if you’d like, we could all go together. Not mum, she’d hate it, but you know, just us three.”

“Well… it’d depend on when… and what time of day it is, I mean I’d prob’ly have to take the whole day off…” He put the bags down and rolled his shoulders, “But, if I can, then yeah,” he grinned, “That sounds fun.”
She smiled back. After all the horrors of the schisms, after watching the world tear itself apart, along with the minds and bodies of anyone close enough, this was what she needed. To feel normal again, surrounded by family, in a place she was welcome, where she was safe. She could smell dinner in the dining room, but more than anything she was looking forward to the few hours she’d have where she could forget about it all. Put it all out of her mind, and maybe, just maybe, for the first night since the fire, she could feel just a little less alone.

“Go ‘elp your mum dish up, I’ll take this lot through.” He bent down to pick his bags back up, then paused, “Oh, and check the fridge. I bought some cider. I always wanted to take you out for your first, well, hah, first legal drink.” He chuckled, then shrugged, “But it’s a bit late now, so I thought we’d have a toast or something, welcome you back.”
Silver nodded,

“Right. Thanks, dad.”
She never did realise just how much she lost when she left. She’d always been so keen to get out, to move in with Jake, to gain some independence, she never considered all the things she’d really been leaving behind. Maybe now she’d be able to make up for it. She’d thought at first that it’d be her family that’d be happiest to have her back, but really, it was her who needed them. She could use her powers to help them, but whatever she did with money, it’d never compare with what they did for her.
Maybe she really could help Iris and Euphie and even Kia save the world. It was no wonder Kia seemed so worn down and pessimistic, after all, she went back to her fancy apartment alone. The thought of trying to take on those nightmares without any family, or friends or anything… With no break to relax and let it go… Silver didn’t know how she’d managed it. But she didn’t need to do it alone anymore. Together, they’d be an unstoppable magical girl team. And Silver could stop the Schisms, come home, and let it all wash away. With her family there, maybe she really could do it. They wouldn’t even know it, but she couldn’t be Silver without them.
She sat down at the table and breathed in the smell. She could do this. She knew that now. With them to come home to, she really could do this.

~☆~

“No, no please, I can’t do this… Please, I can’t…”

“You don’t have a choice! You need to do it now!”
Another train smashed through the regenerating wall, shards of stone scattering across the other tracks and platforms, the train’s horn eclipsing the smash with a blast of noise so loud they flinched away from it.

“That’s another, they’re not going to stop, don’t you get it!?”
Kia ducked her head as the train hit a chunk of stone from a previous breach, jerking the vehicle off the rails and slamming it down into the floor. Carriage by carriage they slid sideways, the squeal of metal scraping against the condensing gravel below it like a dying scream from the great steel snake. Kia turned away from it and back to Silver,

“How many more trains full of people are you going to let die!? How many?”

“I can’t…” Silver sobbed, “I can’t concentrate on it, every time it feels like… like it’s gonna…”
The train smashed into one of the previous ones, the carriages whiplashing the impact through to the end until it came to a complete stop. She watched as Euphie ran over to it, climbing up the wheels and onto the roof. Kia snatched her attention away, her face twisted with fury.

“What!? Like it’s gonna start affecting you, too? Every single one of those people feels that the moment they’re in here! Every one starts feeling themselves change!” She clenched her fists, and took a deep breath, “Pull yourself together! You’ve got it easier than anyone in here!”
Silver turned back to the Heart. It seemed so smooth, a perfect sphere of uncalloused metal, except it didn’t look hard like metal. It transcended that, somehow. And whenever she focussed on it, tried to mould it with her mind, she felt it mould straight back. She felt her consciousness stiffen, her body become rigid and focussed. Dedicated, almost. She felt her energy drain from her, but one specific part strengthen. Each time she tried was different. Her strength, her speed, her awareness, her toughness. It didn’t just drive her body to adapt to one specific trait but her mind, too. The last had been her emotions, and she’d been flooded with so many feelings and sensations that she couldn’t take it. She’d never felt so vulnerable, every thought filling her with hysteria until she broke the tendrils of its focus. Kia didn’t seem to understand.

“What you feel, that’s happening to them for real! Permanently! And every train that comes smashing through here means more people suffer!”

“Kia!” Euphie’s voice cut through as she bellowed across to their platform, “This train isn’t opening! The windows, they’re, they’re turning to steel! Everything is! I can’t get them out!”
Kia paused, straightened up, and yelled,

“Leave them! They’re better off in there than out here!”
Euphie dithered, looking between her mentor and the train. She crouched down, straining to look inside, then stood up again,

“But it’s filling up inside too! They’re panicking, I can’t leave them!”

“Yes! You can!” Kia balled her hands into fists, “They’re already dead! If you let them out they’ll attack us! Leave them! Get back to Iris, she needs your support!”
She turned back to Silver, lowering her voice and tone to a threatening growl,

“Every moment you don’t fix this is another chance for more people to die like they will.”

“Why can’t you do it?” Silver could hear how pathetic she sounded, “You’ve done this before, you don’t need me!”

“Because you need to be able to! By using your element, you can scale it back, you can change it from whatever it’s trying to lock itself into and force it to balance out again! I can degrade it, but that’ll only make it work harder to strengthen itself.” Kia shook her head, “And if you can’t beat this one, then you won’t be able to beat any of them. You’ll be useless.”
Silver sank, her long hair hanging down around her head to block out the twisted world around her. If only she were stronger, if only she were able to face this stuff like the others. Iris had collapsed the last Schism, and she hadn’t broken down in tears over trying to fix the Heart. In fact, she’d pulled it off by now. Iris was smart and talented, Euphie was fearless, and Kia was experienced. Silver had none of those, so maybe she really was useless. If she left it to them, maybe they’d fix the Schisms faster, because they hadn’t tried to rely on her. Drops hit the floor beneath her face, then evaporated. Maybe if she hadn’t been here, that last train wouldn’t have come through. If she hadn’t been here, they’d all have survived.

“We don’t have time for this!” Kia seethed, “If you’re not going to do it, then I’ll try to do it with Euphie. You’ll have to help Iris keep us safe.”
Silver stared at the spots where her tears had fallen, feeling the trails along her face. What the hell was wrong with her? Why couldn’t she just do it? Her element was Metasis, the embodiment of change and growth and mutation, so surely she could adapt? She had to face it, otherwise what was the point? Why not just give up and pretend she was normal like Euphie had said on the train. The others all had their reasons, but why did she do it? What really made her Silver? She turned to the Heart once more, focussing on it, feeling its power with her mind. She had to try one last time. She had to prove she could do it, not just to Kia, but to herself.
She could feel it growing. It appeared like it was adding layers to itself, building itself up to be bigger, stronger, harder, but as she probed her mind out to it she felt all that energy probe back. It pulsed through her body searching for something to grip onto, and after a brief feeling of being filled with it, the sensation began to pull. Her mind began to scream at her to hide, to become small and run and flee, to get away from everything and disappear, and her body felt like it was being sucked inward, a black hole deep inside her trying to shrink her down, make her so small nothing could ever find her ever again.
She pushed back, ignoring the whimper that escaped from her lips, and forced her mind to try to change it, to make it fixate on something else. Anything else. But her mind kept telling her to pull away, to hide and run. Take Kia’s offer, it told her. Take it and try to get out of here. You’ll be safer from all this if you just hide. Just run and keep running. It’s the only way. She couldn’t shake it. Whatever she tried to change it to, she couldn’t concentrate. How could she force her magic onto it when it was doing the same to her? Surely Kia would find it easier! Breaking something, degenerating it down to nothing, that must be easy! Changing something, you had to mould it with your mind, concentrate on exactly what you wanted to change it to. From one thing to another, and the transition between them. How could she do that to something that was trying to force her to concentrate on only one thing? Even worse, running away was exactly what she wanted to do, Heart influenced or not. She couldn’t do this. She just couldn’t do it.
She broke away, reeling from the magic flooding through her and crawled back, shaking her head.

“I-I can’t. I just can’t…”

“KIIAAA!”
Kia’s reply was cut off by Euphie’s scream, and as they turned to look, she struggled on top of the train with two passengers, each of them trying to force her off the train, with more climbing out of the window she’d opened.

“Fuck, I told her not to open it!”
Kia leapt, shooting through the air towards Euphie and smashing into one of the passengers. He was dressed in a suit, probably going home from work, but as he swung an arm out at Kia she caught it, and though she only seemed to push it aside, as she let go it was withered and atrophied, a muscleless husk. He collapsed to his knees, clutching at it as she swung her elbow into the back of the other passenger’s head, a casually dressed woman. She collapsed too, unconscious or dead, Silver couldn’t tell from the platform. Kia gave them no mercy, she never hesitated and never held back. Was that why she was so good at fixing Schisms? Or was it just that so many Schisms had made her that way? A year, she’d said. That’s all it’d been between now and Kia transforming. Silver couldn’t imagine herself being so ruthless, certainly not so fast. They were on their way back now, the other passengers pushed back inside and left to their fate. A young girl was climbing out as they jumped down, struggling to pull herself out. She flailed, trying to pull herself free, stuck somewhere inside. She let go of the edge but didn’t fall, her hands grasping at whatever was holding her, desperation clear in her movements. Silver turned away. She couldn’t watch. She couldn’t do anything, either. Iris was right, this was all so hopeless.

“And if you don’t listen, how the hell do you expect to survive? I know what I’m doing! I’ve been through this before! If I say leave them, you fucking leave them!”

“R-right, Kia.” Euphie’s voice was small and shaken.

“And Iris? Where’s she? Why didn’t she go with you?”

“She’s still back at the other carriage.”

“What?” Kia rounded on her, “You left her!?

“I was– I’ve only been gone a minute! She’ll be fine!” Euphie faltered, “I… I thought…”
Kia took a deep breath, sucking down the frustration that creased her features. It was replaced with a cool calmness and a practiced air of command.

“Right, Euphie you’re staying here. See if you can break down the Heart or something. I don’t know, whatever, just stay here.” she turned to Silver, “You’re coming with me. If Iris is missing any parts you’ll need to shape her new ones.”
Euphie paled,

“Missing any… this is crazy, I’ve only just got here!”
Kia snarled,

“You’re so… naive!” She spat the word, “You were there to balance her out! Every time she uses her powers, she’s heightening the element around her! She makes this whole place worse!” Kia turned her back on the girl, “If she’s going to try to defend herself, she’ll be pumping it with more Immallean magic. So stay here, and don’t fuck anything else up.”
Euphie shrank, and Kia began to run. Silver did her best to keep pace, and watched as Kia corroded her way through the husk of one of the other trains.

“If she’s been pushed back to the edge, she’s done for.” Kia forced her way through, “The edge accelerates fastest, and Immallea purifies. It concentrates all physical matter into its purest form. Which wouldn’t be so bad, except air ain’t pure. It’s like, seventy percent nitrogen. And if any of us gets knocked out, we ain’t gonna have the protection our Transformation gives us.”
Silver stared as she broke through the other side, shavings of rust drifting to the floor, gradually becoming pure iron once more even as they fell.
Kia flexed, took a deep breath, and began to run once more,

“And if anyone needs to survive, it’s her.”

END OF CHAPTER SEVEN

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Read Chapter 8 – In The Moment – (Coming September 6th)